GREAT BARRINGTON — The closest thing to doctors once again making house calls is ready to hit the road, bringing health care services throughout Berkshire County.
The Berkshire Fallon Health Collaborative on Tuesday rolled out its Mobile Health Unit, a 40-foot vehicle that contains two full exam rooms, an intake area and bathroom. The rolling medical facility will be staffed by a coordinator, nurse practitioner and medical assistant, and will offer services from primary care to sick visits to preventive health screenings to ophthalmology and social services.
"The Mobile Health Unit will be a great asset to the communities in Berkshire County as it complements our combined commitment to reduce fragmented care, improve health outcomes and contain costs," said Richard Burke, president and CEO of Fallon Health.
The collaborative includes Fallon Health, Berkshire Health Systems, its Physician Hospital Organization — it's called the Partnership for Health in the Berkshires — and Community Health Programs.
Collaborative officials viewed the mobile clinic, unveiled during a ceremony at CHP's Community Health Center in Great Barrington, as key to reaching people in the most rural areas of the county as well as the urban dwellers least likely to seek medical care.
"Transportation is among the top challenges we face in the county, which is why we are making it a priority to bring care to the patients, instead of having the patients come to us," said David Phelps, president and CEO of Berkshire Health Systems.
CHP CEO Lia Spiliotes said that geography shouldn't be a barrier to accessing quality health care.
"Our community members deserve to have a high level of care, no matter what ZIP code they are in. Community Health Programs is pleased to be part of this important effort that will surely improve the lives of many of our neighbors," Spiliotes said.
Dates and locations for the Mobile Health Unit will be available via an online calendar, social media and local newspapers, and each CHP practice will have access to the schedule. The hours of operation will vary to fit the needs of the community, such as evenings, early mornings and weekends.
Dick Lindsay can be reached at email@example.com and 413-496-6233.